Cinema in 2007: A Healing Year

For me personally, 2007 was the strangest year that I’ve lived to this point in my existence. Filled with regrets, surprises, disappointments,  and even more regrets, I had more than a handful of moments that brought me so down that I seriously questioned my sanity.

Ever since I began gathering a healthy obsession with cinema, music, and the unbelievable marriage of both of these art forms – which was back in 1999 – I have looked to them more and more as an escape. Film and music have proven to be the ultimate escape, but in 2007 it seemed like they were excelling beyond recent year’s comparisons.

As the year began, it just looked to be another nice but normal time for American cinema, with the few works of mastery, clouded over by massive amounts of sequels and Hollywood re-treads. Sure enough, in the first half of the year, we were plowed over with the most sequels (in particular the “three-quels”) than any other year I can recall.

As the summer came to a close, nothing was new. We had an abundance of moneymaking franchise mediocrity, among them only a few actual stand-outs, like David Fincher’s Zodiac, Brad Bird’s Ratatouille, Judd Apatow’s Knocked Up, Sarah Polley’s Away From Her, Paul Greengrass’s The Bourne Ultimatum, and Greg Mottola’s Superbad. There certainly weren’t enough terrific films to prime us, or prepare us, for what was going to happen in the final months of the year – which was what I like to label the “rebirth of original American cinema”.

September started the fall season with a deceiving bang, featuring several action pictures, from the zany (Michael Davis’ Shoot ‘Em Up), to the political (Peter Berg’s The Kingdom), to the old-fashioned (James Mangold’s 3:10 To Yuma). Throughout much of September, I still found myself waiting for that stretch of films that hit the viewer deep, constantly making us think.

The moment I knew that I’d be in for a special two months at the theater was when I went for a back-to-back double feature at the Keystone Art Cinema, in late September. I first saw David Cronenberg’s mysterious Eastern Promises, then ended my afternoon with Paul Haggis’ devastating In the Valley of Elah. To this day I have still never written a review for either of those films, and I think mostly it was because they left me speechless, but also because I’d rather not recall that time in my life. The day I made that matinee double feature visit to the Art Cinema was the worst day in recent memory, and possibly of my life. I made some awful decisions in 2007.

So just as the things in my life were changing, so was American cinema. From the beginning of October until the end of December, it was a marvelous time to be a movie-goer. There was a geat movie to be found no matter what type you were in the mood for. Whether it be a mystery (Ben Affleck’s Gone Baby Gone), a good-hearted comedy (Craig Gillespie’s Lars and the Real Girl), a sprawling epic (Ridley Scott’s American Gangster), a documentary (Charles Ferguson’s No End in Sight), a musical (Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street), an adult comedy (Tamara Jenkins’ The Savages), a confronting drama (Gavin Hood’s Rendition), a long-awaited adaptation (Sean Penn’s Into the Wild), or an intriguing biopic) Todd Haynes’ I’m Not There).  Everyone was going to come out of the theater happy.

It was not only a season of diversity, but consistently impressive and engrossing diversity. Unlike recent years, to be awarded among the few stand-out films, yours had to be not only great, but masterful. So for me, choosing the ones left standing above the best of the best should have been an extremely difficult thing to do. It wasn’t. The pure magic and brilliance that I uncovered when watching films like Tony Gilroy’s  Michael Clayton, Jason Reitman’s Juno, and the Coen Brothers’ No Country For Old Men left me floored, and on numerous occasions.

I have said many times before that becoming immersed in the art of truly brilliant cinema has acted as a medicine, or even savior, to me. That statement had become especially real and true in 2007.

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2 Responses to “Cinema in 2007: A Healing Year”

  1. Amanda Says:

    wow, i know i have said this a million times… but i mean it everytime… a beautiful review. i totally understand every word of it with all my heart. i love you. you are the most beautiful person i have ever met… its a new year, a new day. and i hope to share many joys with you in it. thankyou for your amazing views love.

    you bring true peace

  2. Ferguson Says:

    Thank you so much, sweet. It really means everything to me that you are in my life and that you take the time to read what I write. I love you.

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